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How do I Write an Argumentative Research Paper?

By M. K. McDonald
Updated Feb 22, 2024
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Writing an argumentative research paper involves exploring a topic, collecting and analyzing evidence, then establishing a position on the topic. It is called an argumentative research paper because the goal is to form an argument in defense of a specific position. The key to an effective argumentative research paper is to articulate a clear thesis statement and follow sound logic.

Argumentative writing differs from narrative and descriptive writing by taking and defending a particular position, an activity not required and often not desired in descriptive or narrative writing. Expository writing does involve establishing a particular position, and as a result it is often confused with argumentative writing. The difference between expository and argumentative writing is the amount of research required. An expository essay generally is much shorter and requires significantly less research than an argumentative research paper does.

An argumentative research paper requires extensive research, either by reviewing relevant existing literature or by first-hand data collection through interviews, surveys or experiments. You must collect and analyze a significant amount of research in order to understand competing arguments and develop an appropriate position on the topic. The empirical research then enables you to defend your position with evidence.

Writing an argumentative research paper begins with a clear and concise introductory paragraph that introduces your topic, puts your paper in context with current research on the topic, establishes the importance of the topic and culminates with a one-sentence thesis statement. The argumentative research paper then proceeds with at least three paragraphs forming the body of the paper. To provide clarity to the reader, each paragraph should consider a single issue in direct support of the thesis statement. Appropriate transitions between paragraphs also will improve the quality of your paper.

The body of your paper should present evidence in support of the thesis statement. That evidence can be anecdotal, logical, factual or statistical. The focus on the paper is to present and defend a particular position, but you must consider alternative hypotheses and any empirical evidence that does not support your position. It is unethical to ignore or downplay evidence contrary to your position, and a good argumentative research paper will discuss alternate positions and explain why the position you are taking is superior to the alternatives.

The final step in writing an argumentative research paper is the conclusion, which should restate the thesis statement and main points in your paper. No new information should be introduced in the conclusion. Instead, the conclusion should include a synthesis of the arguments presented, a restatement of why the topic is important and, when appropriate, a discussion of any further research that is needed on the topic.

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